Lawrence Acquisition

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A New Portrait for Bath
15 January 2016

The Holburne Museum announces success for its campaign to raise funds for the acquisition of an oil sketch by Sir Thomas Lawrence and for the delivery of an innovative new learning programme.

In the autumn the Holburne set out to raise £450,000, including a public appeal target of £61,209, for the acquisition of Arthur Atherley by Thomas Lawrence and the delivery of an innovative learning programme. Lawrence’s preparatory oil sketch for one of his most celebrated portraits has never before been displayed in a public museum. The work has now found a permanent home in the Holburne’s display of the British Golden Age, which previously lacked a painting by Lawrence. The work was acquired with support from the Art Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund, and ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, along with members of the public.

Jennifer Scott, the Holburne’s Director said, ‘This is a fantastic achievement for the Holburne. We are immensely grateful to the Art Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund and to Arts Council England/Victoria & Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund for their crucial grants and invaluable support for this campaign. The response from our visitors, Friends, patrons and supporters at all levels has been overwhelming, enabling us to raise this large amount in a short time period. It is a reflection of both the quality of the painting itself, and the relevance of an outstanding early Lawrence portrait coming to the South West. We are also very grateful to Lowell Libson Ltd for giving us the opportunity to acquire this painting on a favourable basis. We can now implement an exciting learning, interpretation and community engagement programme inspired by this compelling portrait – a fresh face for the Museum’s 2016 celebrations marking 100 Years Here.’

Thomas Lawrence lived and worked in Bath during his teens, from 1780 to 1787. Five years after leaving Bath he exhibited a three-quarter length portrait of Arthur Atherley at the Royal Academy. This is Lawrence’s exquisite sketch from life for that portrait, now in the Los Angeles County Museum and one of the artist’s best-known works. The artist was just three years older than his 19-year-old sitter, who had recently left Eton College.
The portrait hangs beautifully in the Holburne’s Brownsword Picture Gallery, which is dedicated to the greatest British portraitists of the eighteenth century, particularly those who lived and worked in Bath, including Thomas Gainsborough and Joseph Wright of Derby. The learning programme ‘A New Portrait for Bath’ will engage with schools, the elderly and the visually impaired, and the oil sketch will inform new interpretation around the techniques and processes of making a portrait.

Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, said: ‘We are so pleased to support the acquisition of this important portrait, an excellent addition to the Museum’s fine collection of 18th-century art. Heartfelt thanks to everyone else who helped through the public appeal to make this happen – a sign of widespread support for the Holburne’s admirable collecting ambitions.’

Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said: ‘Thanks to National Lottery players, we’re delighted to support the Holburne to add this exciting addition to their collection. Lawrence is one of the West Country’s most renowned artists and the gallery is a fitting spot for people to be able to see this piece for the first time.’

Julia Brettell, National Programmes Manager at the Victoria and Albert Museum said, ‘The ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund was pleased to be able to support the acquisition of this wonderful portrait; an ambitious and highly appropriate addition to the Holburne’s collections.’

Bath MP Ben Howlett said of the news: ‘I am delighted that the Holburne’s celebrations marking 100 Years Here have got off to such an excellent start. I am particularly pleased to see the Lawrence sketch incorporated into ‘A New Portrait for Bath’ to help engagement with the next generation to ensure our arts are preserved and better understood.’


Media Enquiries
For further information or images please contact: Katie Jenkins, the Holburne Museum
tel 01225 388547 | email


The Holburne Museum houses an important art collection formed by Sir William Holburne in the early nineteenth century, which includes paintings, silver, sculpture, furniture and porcelain of national and international significance. Artists in the collection include Gainsborough, Guardi, Stubbs, Ramsay and Zoffany.

The Museum reopened in May 2011 after ambitious renovations and a new extension by Eric Parry Architects. The Holburne has fast gained a reputation as one of a number of outstanding regional museums in the UK.
• Winner of the Museums & Heritage Award for the re-display of the permanent collection.
• Winner of RIBA Building of the Year, south west.
• Winner of the Civic Trust’s Michael Middleton Special Award for a restoration/extension project within a conservation area.

In 2016 the Holburne celebrates 100 Years in its current location with a Major Exhibition Centenary Programme.
• Three new exhibitions for 2016: Impressionism: Capturing Life (13 February – 5 June 2016), Stubbs and the Wild (25 June – 2 October 2016) and Silver: Light and Shade (22 October 2016 – 22 January 2017)
• Artist commissions for Djordje Ozbolt and Linda Brothwell
• Special collection displays and public events

The Holburne Museum, Great Pulteney Street, Bath BA2 4DB
Open daily, free admission 10am to 5pm (11am to 5pm Sundays and Bank Holidays)
Tel: 01225 388569 | email: |
In Partnership with Bath Spa University

The Art Fund
The Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. In the past five years alone the Art Fund has given £34 million to help museums and galleries acquire works of art for their collections. It also helps museums share their collections with wider audiences by supporting a range of tours and exhibitions, including ARTIST ROOMS and the 2013-18 Aspire tour of Tate’s Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows by John Constable, and makes additional grants to support the training and professional development of curators.
The Art Fund is independently funded, with the core of its income provided by 117,000 members who receive the National Art Pass and enjoy free entry to over 230 museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, as well as 50% off entry to major exhibition. In addition to grant-giving, the Art Fund’s support for museums includes the annual Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year (won by The Whitworth, Manchester, in 2015), a publications programme and a range of digital platforms.
Find out more about the Art Fund and the National Art Pass at
For further information please contact Madeline Adeane, Press Relations Manager, / 0207 225 4804

Heritage Lottery Fund
Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. @heritagelottery

The Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund
• The Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund is a government fund that helps regional museums, record offices and specialist libraries in England and Wales to acquire objects relating to the arts, literature and history.
• It was established at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in 1881 and continues to be part of its nationwide work.
• The annual grants budget, currently £750,000, is provided by Arts Council England (ACE).
• Each year, the Purchase Grant Fund considers some 200 applications and awards grants to around 100 organisations, enabling acquisitions of over £3 million to go ahead.
• Visit the website:

Arthur Atherley by Sir Thomas Lawrence
Arthur Atherley by Sir Thomas Lawrence on display from 29 January